High-ionization emission in metal-deficient blue compact dwarf galaxies.
THUAN T.X. and IZOTOV Y.I.
Abstract (from CDS):
Primordial stars are expected to be very massive and hot, producing copious amounts of hard ionizing radiation. The best place to study hard ionizing radiation in the local universe is in very metal-deficient blue compact dwarf (BCD) galaxies. We have carried out a MMT spectroscopic search for [Ne V] λ3426 (ionization potential of 7.1 ryd), [Fe V] λ4227 (ionization potential of 4 ryd), and He II λ4686 (ionization potential of 4 ryd) emission in a sample of 18 BCDs. We have added data from previous work and from the Data Release 3 of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. In total, we have assembled a BCD high-ionization sample with [Ne V] emission in four galaxies, [Fe V] emission in 15 galaxies, and He II emission in 465 galaxies. With this large sample, we have reached the following conclusions. There is a general trend of higher [Ne V], [Fe V], and He II emission at lower metallicities. However, metallicity is not the only factor that controls the hardness of the radiation. High-mass X-ray binaries and main-sequence stars are probably excluded as the main sources of the very hard ionizing radiation responsible for [Ne V] emission. The most likely source of [Ne V] emission is probably fast radiative shocks moving with velocities ≳450 km/s through a dense interstellar medium with an electron number density of several hundreds/cm3 and associated with supernova explosions of the most massive stars. These have masses of ∼50-100 M☉and are formed in very compact super-star clusters (SSCs). The softer ionizing radiation required for He II emission is likely associated with less massive evolved stars and/or radiative shocks moving through a less dense interstellar medium.